The Center for International History is housed within the Department of History at Columbia University. It provides a forum for discussion and to foster historical perspectives on international issues of contemporary intellectual concern. It draws upon the collective intellectual resources, not only of the faculty and graduate students of the Department of History, but also of scholars from anthropology, political science, sociology, law and other adjacent fields as well as policy-makers, journalists and other practitioners. Our aim is to feature speakers and events that transcend or transform the public/academic divide and which critically engage with the production and consumption of historical knowledge across divisions of class, race and gender in our global communities. We will focus on developing technological (“digital”) and political (“crisis in the Humanities”) impetuses to situate diverse publics within the fold of history.
For instance, in the spring of 2013, graduate students and faculty members gathered together with a range of practitioners of history to discuss the 2012-2013 theme, “History in Action.” Their aim was to think seriously about the relationship between history and life beyond the university. They agreed that the History department needed to cultivate partnerships with extra-institutional organizations, foster training in professionalization, and work diligently and responsibly to bring history thinking to the extra-academic publics. At the Center for International History, we continued this conversation under the rubric of “History and Public Life” inviting a range of speakers, and co-sponsoring a series of talks which focused on universal concerns around local issues such as immigration. In the 2014-15 academic year, we focused our conversations around themes of migration, urban history and digital humanities.